Author Topic: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)  (Read 4180 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline chyros

  • a.k.a. Thomas
  • * Esteemed Elder
  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 2746
  • Location: The Netherlands
  • Hello and welcome.
IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« on: Sat, 09 September 2017, 03:41:45 »
Breaking length records yet again, I spent a LOT of time doing this one - hope you like it! :) I'll be on holiday for two weeks, so see you guys in three! ;)

Check my keyboard video reviews:


Online JP

  • Posts: 96
  • Location: Indiana
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 09 September 2017, 13:05:16 »
Awesome review. Very informative as usual.
You can either buy clothes or buy keyboards, it's that simple. No one who is not very rich can do both. Pay no attention to your clothes and no attention at all to the mode, and buy your clothes for comfort and durability, and you will have the clothes money to buy keyboards.

Offline dante

  • Posts: 2553
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #2 on: Sat, 09 September 2017, 13:59:28 »
I know chyros will want to set me on fire but I prefer the M2 (1395300) to the M.  I love the slim trim profile a great deal more.

True the capacitors will need replacing but AFAIK it will never require a bolt mod.  I know he tried this board and wasn't impressed but please consider these are going on 30 years now and wear is going to happen in some of them.

My only complaint is some M2's (and M's) used different weight springs.  I've had 5 or 6 1390120's and the springs were consistently much lighter than average compared to something I found made in the 90's.

I don't mind the lighter weight actually and considered - as unholy as it sounds - springs from the 1390120 into a M2 but not sure if it would work.

I wish Chyros could do an interview with Unicomp but they are as secretive as North Korea.

Offline chyros

  • a.k.a. Thomas
  • * Esteemed Elder
  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 2746
  • Location: The Netherlands
  • Hello and welcome.
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 12 September 2017, 14:39:05 »
I agree, the older ones consistently feel lighter.

The M2 definitely has its advantages, it just happens that I don't find most apply to me xD .
Check my keyboard video reviews:


Offline Prothrin

  • Posts: 26
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 12 October 2017, 04:19:43 »
Awesome review! Very detailed and your voice has an authoritative, yet soothing quality to it, haha.

Offline leech

  • Posts: 67
  • Location: gemani
  • …always on the lookout for higher quality…
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 25 January 2018, 15:09:30 »
Great review, great keyboard, i have the 1999 Model M  ;)

@all 3127 Model M users, i am wondering about 1 thing: the texture on my <F> and <J> keys is smoother and less pronounced than on all my other letter keys. Maybe the PBT has worn off on these 2 keys or maybe that's reality as from leaving the keycap factory.

What do you guys think, any similar observations?

If i had to take a guess, to me it seems that both keycaps come that way, smoother. Their surface texture really doesn't look as if the keycaps were worn down smooth by my two index fingas. My keeb was Like New when i got it and i did do countless races on Typeracer, so I am wondering.

Offline rowdy

  • HHKB Hapster
  • * Erudite Elder
  • Posts: 20494
  • Location: melbourne.vic.au
  • Missed another sale.
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 29 January 2018, 19:41:23 »
Great review, great keyboard, i have the 1999 Model M  ;)

@all 3127 Model M users, i am wondering about 1 thing: the texture on my <F> and <J> keys is smoother and less pronounced than on all my other letter keys. Maybe the PBT has worn off on these 2 keys or maybe that's reality as from leaving the keycap factory.

What do you guys think, any similar observations?

If i had to take a guess, to me it seems that both keycaps come that way, smoother. Their surface texture really doesn't look as if the keycaps were worn down smooth by my two index fingas. My keeb was Like New when i got it and i did do countless races on Typeracer, so I am wondering.

Maybe from someone touch-typing on it for years (decades?) and resting/rubbing their fingers against the home keys hundreds of times every day.
"Because keyboards are accessories to PC makers, they focus on minimizing the manufacturing costs. But that’s incorrect. It’s in HHKB’s slogan, but when America’s cowboys were in the middle of a trip and their horse died, they would leave the horse there. But even if they were in the middle of a desert, they would take their saddle with them. The horse was a consumable good, but the saddle was an interface that their bodies had gotten used to. In the same vein, PCs are consumable goods, while keyboards are important interfaces." - Eiiti Wada

NEC APC-H4100E | Ducky DK9008 Shine MX blue LED red | Ducky DK9008 Shine MX blue LED green | Link 900243-08 | CM QFR MX black | KeyCool 87 white MX reds | HHKB 2 Pro | Model M 02-Mar-1993 | Model M 29-Nov-1995 | CM Trigger (broken) | CM QFS MX green | Ducky DK9087 Shine 3 TKL Yellow Edition MX black | Lexmark SSK 21-Apr-1994 | IBM SSK 13-Oct-1987 | CODE TKL MX clear | Model M 122 01-Jun-1988

Ị̸͚̯̲́ͤ̃͑̇̑ͯ̊̂͟ͅs̞͚̩͉̝̪̲͗͊ͪ̽̚̚ ̭̦͖͕̑́͌ͬͩ͟t̷̻͔̙̑͟h̹̠̼͋ͤ͋i̤̜̣̦̱̫͈͔̞ͭ͑ͥ̌̔s̬͔͎̍̈ͥͫ̐̾ͣ̔̇͘ͅ ̩̘̼͆̐̕e̞̰͓̲̺̎͐̏ͬ̓̅̾͠͝ͅv̶̰͕̱̞̥̍ͣ̄̕e͕͙͖̬̜͓͎̤̊ͭ͐͝ṇ̰͎̱̤̟̭ͫ͌̌͢͠ͅ ̳̥̦ͮ̐ͤ̎̊ͣ͡͡n̤̜̙̺̪̒͜e̶̻̦̿ͮ̂̀c̝̘̝͖̠̖͐ͨͪ̈̐͌ͩ̀e̷̥͇̋ͦs̢̡̤ͤͤͯ͜s͈̠̉̑͘a̱͕̗͖̳̥̺ͬͦͧ͆̌̑͡r̶̟̖̈͘ỷ̮̦̩͙͔ͫ̾ͬ̔ͬͮ̌?̵̘͇͔͙ͥͪ͞ͅ

Offline 1391401

  • Posts: 257
  • MX CLEAR
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #7 on: Tue, 30 January 2018, 16:05:55 »
Great video!  I just found your channel the other day and have been watching your videos.  Thanks for this.
People I've given money to from this webform who never respond to me and have not shipped me anything: ctrlalt.io, Team Readline Reputable alternatives to GH group buys: http://pimpmykeyboard.com, https://www.massdrop.com,

Offline ThoughtArtist

  • Posts: 262
  • Location: A climate-controlled testing facility
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 02 February 2018, 23:16:09 »
Nice re-review! I like all your new work on the channel. I had to take a break from "keyboarding" for awhile so I have just now seen this.

I got what ended up being a very lightly used, nearly Mint '89 Model M from a Goodwill seller on ebay for $50. It looked like it had been stored in a shed, but cleaned up better than just about any other keyboard could have from 1989.

I still prefer Cherry MX Browns for typing though. The M feels nice at first, but it feels a bit slow to type on after awhile for me. It's just my preference though as I like to glide a bit more over the keys as I type, and even MX Clears just feel faster due to the springiness. Also, the M feels more "plasticy" than my smaller MX boards with solid metal mounting plates and thick PBT keycaps.

It just feels like the M is a compromised design. I love the typing feel of the Model F (sans the awful spacebar) better than any Cherry switch, for sure, though it is definitely louder and potentially more annoying than the M. From a sound engineering perspective, I'd say the M is the winner if the goal was to make it more acceptable to general users.

I think if they had just made a newer version of the F, with the PCB, it could have been a true evolution instead of a compromise. Despite the legendary status of the M, and the standard layout it introduced, I think the Model M is actually representative of IBM's general decline more than anything else about the company. (Maybe even representative of the decline of the West as well... I mean Unicomp is such a fall from grace. It can be depressing to think about, especially for Americans who saw IBM's and U.S.'s manufacturing decline first-hand)
« Last Edit: Fri, 02 February 2018, 23:38:48 by ThoughtArtist »

Offline ThoughtArtist

  • Posts: 262
  • Location: A climate-controlled testing facility
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #9 on: Sat, 03 February 2018, 02:32:14 »
Correction in previous comment:


I know better than to say evolution, in any matter, is only towards something more advanced or somehow better as we like to think.)

I meant to say the Model M, from my perspective, represents more of a "regression" than a progression in tech (IBM or overall or just the West, or the U.S. itself).

I feel like history may end up showing that the Model M is symbolically the turning point in modernity when all modern technological advancement started to slow and regress, despite other prolonged advances that would/have come afterward for awhile.


The Model M could be considered extremely significant, BUT...

[maybe, perhaps. I or anyone can't know precisely yet but I think its a reasonable enough possibility to be considered and not be a just hunch]



« Last Edit: Sat, 03 February 2018, 02:49:54 by ThoughtArtist »

Online Leslieann

  • * Elevated Elder
  • Posts: 1856
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #10 on: Sat, 03 February 2018, 03:10:45 »
I think the Model M is actually representative of IBM's general decline more than anything else about the company. (Maybe even representative of the decline of the West as well... I mean Unicomp is such a fall from grace. It can be depressing to think about, especially for Americans who saw IBM's and U.S.'s manufacturing decline first-hand)
Unicomp was not a fall from grace, by the time they were founded (1996), rubber domes had long since taken over and IBM had long been relegated to just another pc manufacturer due to their own bad decisions and corporate red tape. Their decline can easily be traced back to a time before foreign manufacturing was of significant impact, in fact in the late 70's they were almost the poster child for corporate red tape.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/Vortex case, hand milled case, custom feet, custom paint, Klaxxon key caps, lubed and o-ringed Jailhouse Blues made from vintage Cherry MX Blues, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, removable cord, sound dampened. Winkey blockoff plate | Magicforce 68 w/Outemu Blues |KBT Race S L.E. w/Ergo-Clears, custom WASD keyset | Das Pro w/browns (Costar model) | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline leech

  • Posts: 67
  • Location: gemani
  • …always on the lookout for higher quality…
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #11 on: Sat, 03 February 2018, 06:56:10 »
Maybe from someone touch-typing on it for years (decades?) and resting/rubbing their fingers against the home keys hundreds of times every day.
Yes, i was thinking that at first too. And it may still be true. However the seller claimed that the 1999 keeb was hardly in use, he is geman so i am going to believe.  ;D
Also, the <5> Num key is exhibiting this smoothish surface too. What are the odds that the previous user(s) of the keeb did hardcore Num-ing to wear down just the <5> by touch-typing? Possible, yes. Probable, maybe not. That's why I've been wondering and asking here.

And even if you guys don't have smooth <F><J><5> keys, it could still be true that in 1999 the IBM UK factory released the keycaps as observed (1080p):


Offline Deefenestrate

  • Posts: 35
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #12 on: Sun, 04 February 2018, 09:28:49 »
Oooh, that Industrial Model M  :eek:

Offline leech

  • Posts: 67
  • Location: gemani
  • …always on the lookout for higher quality…
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #13 on: Sat, 24 February 2018, 14:21:55 »
After 4.0 months i finally got the "ibm driver" (tags: 5.5mm, hex, nut, key, wrench, driver, screwdriver) in the mail hooray! It is the cheapest build on the market, branded Penggong Tools. You can find Penggong stuffz on GB/BG/DX/FT/AX/ebay, i got mine for 1.5US$ shipped from AX thru ChinaPost incl origin country tracking:


People on the internet said that the correct size would be "5.5mm". And while it is true that the nut size is exactly 5.50mm —i checked it with my digital calipers—, the actual size of the 5.5mm Penggong driver is 5.7mm, which means that the driver is notably bigger than the nut:


A driver with play is no good and will eventually *uck up the nut. So i inserted some duct tape in the driver to eliminate the play. Works like a charm:


I believe that my unit is special because it is a 1999 Model M and manufactured by IBM, not by Lexmark, Maxi Switch, or Unicomp. This has to be the latest original IBM production unit documented on the internet, and mine came with German layout (ISO), non-detachable PS/2 cord, drainage channels, detachable double keycaps, IBM blue logo.

The inside of the bottom plastic features the drainage holes, and one can see that the plastic mould got revised to cover up the loudspeaker grille:


There isn't much to see on the flip side… :


…well, except for the model sticker:


So there you have it. Mine is an original IBM 1999 model M!! :p
The inside of the top plastic features some numbers i have no idea maybe showing that the plastic itself was manufactured before 1999:


The weight of the top plus bottom plastic is 818g total, aha. The total weight of the entire keeb including the non-detachable PS/2 cable is 2035g. These numbers are higher than the ones stated in the OP's video  :-* :


The rivets being 18yrs old at the time of writing are all intact, so no geeky bolt mod is needed :blank: :


Let's check the sticker next to the rivets, oic:


From my measurements i am deducting that the nominal thickness of the metal sheet is 0.90mm, not 1.00mm:


Last but not least a quick look at the electronics:


The small white sticker from the right side was about to come off, so i stuck it on the metal sheet:


I am bathing the keycaps in water with dishwashing detergent, let's see the cleaning result after the night without any manual scrubbing action! :cool:
Also, right now i am typing on the ibm with no double keycaps and I am liking it! The non-textured surface makes them easier to clean/wipe off and there is no chance that dirt could build up on the surface. There is also more space between the keys, which should help typing accuracy, because it is harder to hit 2 keys with 1 finger accidentally at the same time. Interestingly, i wouldn't say that these smaller smooth keys are also more slippery for the finger tips than with the double keycaps on. From my impression, it is the very texture of the double keycaps which makes them rather slippery than not.

In comparison, my finger tips experience the best grip on coated ABS keycaps, for example Razor keebs or Filco keebs. But i can testify that those keycaps wear off and shine up fast. PBT keycaps are more durable in every respect but they are also less grippy, no matter whether the keycap surface is textured or not.
« Last Edit: Sat, 24 February 2018, 14:27:49 by leech »